Moonga’s African Dream
My African Dream has been discovering talent in Botswana for 15 years. Last year, the selection team travelled around Botswana for a month, assessing entries for MAD 2009.
“We were at Botlale Primary School’s Annual Talent Show, when during the interval, the school choir sang for us,” says Rusette Auton, one of the organisers of MAD (My African Dream). “Out of the Choir we could hear this amazing voice… we called the voice out, and identified it as belonging to a young man aged 13 years old… we insisted he enter My African Dream.”
He made it through the Semi Finals and was selected as the Judges’ Choice in the Grand Finale. As he stood on stage in the finals, conquering stage fright that had him nauseous and shaking in the wings, “I was so worried he was going to freeze on stage” Rusette said. “But he got half way through his song and every single one of the 650 people in the auditorium gave him a standing ovation. He sang with a passion that I had never seen… It was quite phenomenal! Many of the audience (including myself) were moved to tears.” He had competed against more than 3,000 hopefuls from all over Botswana to become the My African Dream Judges Choice of 2009… and he has not stopped there!
His name is Moonga K. He’s thirteen years old and he has a dream. That night, in front of those 650 people, BTV’s camera crew, and thousands watching at home on their televisions, Moonga’s dream of becoming a professional singer took a step closer to becoming a reality. Mara Louw, internationally acclaimed singer, and judge for South African Idols, performed with all the finalists that night. She singled Moonga out, brought him to the front of the stage and told everyone that this young talent must not be allowed to fall through the cracks – he needs professional training.
Since then Moonga has been offered a place at the world-renowned Drakensberg Boys’ Choir in South Africa, with a scholarship to help part-fund the tuition fees. Drakensberg has a fantastic reputation, giving excellent academic schooling as well as first-rate musical training. They’ve toured world-wide, even singing behind the Iron Curtain and for the Pope. The school is multi-cultural and multi-lingual and has been since it opened in 1967 (in the midst of apartheid). The boys learn classical, jazz, african and pop music, creating a diverse repertoire and breaking down cultural and musical barriers.
It’s an amazing school and, as you would expect, it doesn’t come cheap. Moonga, his family and friends are trying to raise the rest of the money needed for his school fees, travel and other expenses so he can start as soon as possible. Drakensberg Boys’ Choir are so impressed by his incredible voice that on top of the scholarship they are holding his space for him while he raises the money, but time is of the essence. His voice will start breaking very soon and if he doesn’t receive the proper training he’s likely to lose his astonishing talent. He is working phenomenally hard to achieve his dream, touring in both Botswana and South Africa, getting his voice known, learning his craft, pushing his dream.
Moonga is not a pop star. He’s not a pro. He doesn’t pretend to be. He has outstanding power and control, but he needs training. He’s still nervous and a little awkward sometimes. But he’s 13. And, I’m told, he gets better with every performance. On Saturday evening, he put on a show that lasted two and a half hours. Sure, he had support – he didn’t sing every song, but he carried that show far more than certain stars I’ve been to see. Stars I’ve paid considerably more to see. He even moved me to tears at one point.
He works hard and he’s a nice kid, not a brat or a diva. He has a dream. He’s not looking for handouts, he is asking the public to help him, he’s helping himself, and he’s working hard to make his dream come true. He is well aware that it is a long hard road ahead but he steams on with enthusiasm and passion, determined to make his dream come true!
I’ll be keeping you posted on his progress, but in the mean time, check out what the Botswana Gazette had to say about a previous concert. And because you know how much I love the song Hallelujah, I thought I’d share this from Moonga’s YouTube channel. The production values aren’t great, and the track skips somewhat which is a problem, but if you can bear with that and listen to his voice, you’ll see what I mean.
If you know someone ‘in the biz,’ a bit of networking would do wonders to keep Moonga’s dream alive. Even if you’re not, if you can help in any way please get in touch and I’ll pass it on.